Pixie Portal

Delve into Wendy's World of Knitting, Illustrator, Cats, and Pixie Magic.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Alaska Knitting


I'm not a person who wears fur (come to think of it, I don't wear leather anymore either). But Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan Alaska are filled with fur and sheepskin shops.

Venturing into a fur store, I found the most amazing thing. A KNITTED mink shawl/scarf. I didn't believe it was knitted. The store clerk then showed me the mink yarn. Amazing.

The clerk discovered I was a knitter. She pulled me around the store, showing me all the different knitted fur items, and the fur yarn that made them. I was in a state of incredulous amazement (hence the weird expression on my face)! This is a knitted beaver shawl.

Needless to say, all these items were $1,000 - $5,000 and obviously, none of these treasures came home with me. But I appreciated the clerks enthusiasm and her willingness to let me take pictures.

During our Alaskan cruise, I started and knit 13.5 inches of my pink sweater as well as most of one sleeve.

So far, I like this pattern. I like that the left, right, and back pieces are all one piece (so far) and how the increases are worked into the pattern. I've also enjoyed knitting a sleeve in the round and adding 2 increases every 6 rows. This gives the sleeve a lovely tapering shape. I hope I'm creating a wearable garment. And this will be forever remembered as "The Alaskan Sweater".

Favorite pictures

Well, I've been looking at our 1000+ Alaska pictures for two days now. I'm pleased that I finished the DVD picture slideshow for our folks.

Here's five favorite photos - click on the image to see a larger photo--Enjoy!
Mother & Baby Humpback Whales in Juneau


Harbor Seal in Juneau


Hubbard Glacier


Sea Otters in Sitka


Bald Eagles in Sitka

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I'm home! I'm home!


Karen and I are home from our Alaskan cruise.

Here I am in front of the Hubbard Glacier (nice hair!). I'll post some pictures to our Flickr site as well as share some stories with you later.

We had a wonderful trip and we're glad we're home.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Off to Alaska


I finished my second supersoft nylon scarf last night, just in time for our Alaska cruise trip.

This poor scarf has lived in my car since the first of the year. When Karen and I would run errands together, I would knit a row or two. It was knit on size 10 beautiful Crystal Palace knitting needles. But I noticed when I finished it up last night, that the larger, straight needles really bothered my wrists and forearms. I guess I've gotten spoiled by my circular needles.

K & I will be cruising the inner passage of Alaska for a week. When I'm not sight-seeing, I'll be starting and knitting my pink sweater.

Send us good thoughts of sunny, fun-filled days! See you soon!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Finished Summer Shell


At last! At last! I've finished Karen's sleeveless summer shell!

Pattern: Essential Shell by Chris de Longpre- knittingatnoon.com
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Sierra, 80% pima cotton, 20% wool
Color: White
Needles: 5US
Started: March 26, 2006
Finished: May 16, 2006

I deviated from the pattern by making the arm holes smaller and the neck straps wider.

Some of you might remember that I first knit this shell back in February. I knit it with Berrocco Cotton Twist and the gauge/pattern was way off. The first shell I knit was huge! But I persevered, made some changes, and knit it again.

And it fits! I'm thrilled!

Blabla knitted toys


Today I was cruising blogs and found kiddley.com which is a site that shares neat ideas for you and your kids.

Featured on the site was blabla.com. There are amazing knitted products at this site. I'm not sure if all of their collection is hand-knit but it is all admirable work. When I was cruising the site I was thinking, "Share the patterns!".

I'm also amazed at the prices of these pieces. I'm not sure how they can afford just the yarn, much less the labor or profit, on these knitted goods.

This site makes me want to try to knit a toy (like some of the ones featured on knitty.com)!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Flowers and allergies


The azaleas have faded but the iris are in bloom.

My allergies have been horrible this week. Just when I recovered from my cold, the allergies hit. I'm not sure what is in bloom that has affected me so much. I didn't have any allergy problems last year.

Hopefully I'll have some non-sneezy news later!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Music and Dancing


I've had another one of my Itunes shopping sprees. I simply love that their songs are just 99 cents!

Here's what I've been buying: (feel free to laugh... I'm weird and I know it!)
Scandalous by Mis-Teeq
Pon de Replay & SOS by Rihanna
Groove is in the Heart by Deee-Lite
Black Suits Comin' by Will Smith
Butterfly by Crazy Town
I'm Glad & Jenny from the Block by Jennifer Lopez
Dreams by The Cranberries
Wherever You Will Go by The Calling
Name by the Goo Goo Dolls and
She by Elvis Costello

So last night I was dancing outrageously in my office, listening to my new music and shaking my sizable booty. And it reminded of dancing in my childhood home.

I remembered high school summers when the only thing that was really important was having a great tan. I would sunbathe from 10am until 5pm wearing (God help me!) Johnson's baby oil (my poor skin!) and listen to my favorite tapes and the radio.

Now my parent's house was way out in the boondocks with no neighbors in sight. So sometimes, when I felt really brave, I was sunbathe without my top. And I would dance around.

One day I was in my kitchen making lunch (topless) before heading back out to sunbathe when one of my favorite songs came on. So I started dancing and singing up a storm. You know the kind where you pretend you are on stage and you hold a pretend mike to your mouth.

And I look out my window and there is a man up on our telephone pole working on the phone line. I shrieked and hit the floor. He blushed and skedattled down the pole.

So gang... get on up and dance. Shake your groove thing and sing with all your might.

But take it from me....pull down your shades first!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pink tree

There is a gorgeous pink tree at the entrance to our subdivision. I have no idea what it is, but it's lovely.

Click on the pictures for a closer look.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Identity, Part One

Recently I've been most interested in the subject of identity. And as many of you know, once you get interested in a subject, it seems that other people are interested in the same subject (it's magic!) Case in point, I've read with interest two entries from the Knit and Tonic blog: "Do you want to be known?" and "Trying so hard not to be cute". From my point of view, both entries are about others opinions/definitions of full-time knitters.

I'm also reading "Necessary Dreams" by Ana Fels wherein she quotes Erik Erikson:
"Identity formation employs a process of simultaneous reflection and observation, a process by which the individual judges himself in light of what he perceives to be the way which others judge him in comparison to themselves and to a typology significant to them."

Simply put, our self-concept corresponds to other people's views of us.

Is it no wonder that I...a gay, college-educated, past-professional, stay-at-home housewife, non-childbearer, whose current passions are gardening, reading and knitting...am a hard nut to peg? And that others may not know what to think about me or how to view me? And that, in turn, makes it sometimes difficult for me to know how to view myself.

It's no surprise to me that there are so many knitter/bloggers. We legitimatize one another.

I'm studying this topic so I may subject you to other posts about identity.

Thanks for listening/reading.

Postscript:
The other books/articles that have surfaced for me with regards to identity are:

"Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell. This is a fantastic book. I've flown through it. Julie is to cooking as the Yarn Harlot is to yarn. The book is about a 30-something secretary who creates a self-rescue project: to cook all of the 524 Julia Child recipies within one year. This is NOT a cookbook; it's one woman's hilarious journey.

and Carolyn Myss' May 3rd newsletter titled, "Essential Life Wisdom- When is it time to evaluate your goals, habits, attitudes and lifestyles?" You can read her at myss.com. I've been enjoying her monthly newsletter and her books for years. I like Myss' style of discussing spiritual matters with practicality, directness and bluntness.

Thanks again!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Yarn swift

Well, it's like I predicted. The return to knitting plain stockinette is a challenge after the lace knitting of the ponchette. And it seems slow...knitting 100+ stitches per row compared to the 58 stitches of the ponchette. Plus, the cotton yarn feels tight compared to the loose slipperiness of hemp. Still, I'm determined to finish Karen's summer shell (while it's still summer!).

On a happy note, I used my new swift/winder set-up today. A week ago I was walking through the house muttering and grumbling. Karen asked what was up and I replied that I needed a new place for my swift/winder and I couldn't find one. You see, I kept this setup in the garage but I had decided to rearrange the garage and the swift table was getting in my way. But I couldn't find any other acceptable table in the house. I love yarn and have fun winding it but I didn't want the swift to be attached to my desk or kitchen counter and dining room table at all times.

She came up with a most excellent (and out of the box) idea. She declared that we would get a small shelf (like the ones you put shoes on in your closet) and we would attach the swift/winder to it. It would fit in any of our closets and I could just pull it out when I needed it. Now why didn't I think of that? How cool! I used it today and it worked beautifully!

Here's Chloe investigating.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Fictional failures


I am finished with the historical-suspense fiction genre of books.

I've been disappointed too many times. I read and loved Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code". Since then I've attempted to read:
The Rule of Four by Caldwell & Thomason
The Eight by Neville
The Historian by Kostova
and recently, The Labyrinth by Mosse.

I've yet to finish any of them. Their back covers and blurbs entice me with interesting plots. But these books have bored me to tears. It’s so disappointing because I think the authors have great ideas. I have high hopes when I start reading their books. And I’ll give them around 100 pages. But if you don’t have me hooked by then, your book is destined to be taken to Goodwill in a disgusted fit of despair.

My favorite authors are Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Robin Hobb, Diana Gabaladon and Ellis Peters. They can pull me into a story so well that hours will pass without notice. Many times I’ll dream that I’m in their stories. Many literary snobs might say that I lack the fortitude to read “higher” fiction but I don’t think this is the case. I think, particularly with the four books listed above, that these authors are poor story-tellers.

I think Dan Brown started a new genre of fiction. And there was a flood of manuscripts trying to ride his coat-tails. And many of them were published. But, honestly, they shouldn’t have been.

For now, I think I’ll re-read the “Da Vinci Code”. It’s been almost three years since I’ve read it. And I want to familiarize myself with the story before I see the movie.

(end rant)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ponchette Pose


It's finished! It's finished! I'm happy and proud!

Click here for more pictures including a photo of the back and photos of me getting really tickled and laughing out loud.

Ponchette block


Last night I finished knitting my ponchette. I blocked it on my guest room bed. And here's a neat tip that worked--I put a small fan nearby and had it blow air on the knitting all night. This morning, the knitting was dry. Hurray!

Cool Hemp Ponchette:
Pattern: Lanaknits Designs
Yarn: 100% Long Fiber Hemp: Allhemp6, DK weight, 3 skeins/270 grams
Color: Marble Green
Needles: 7US
Started: 4/24/06
Finished: 5/5/06 - 12 days!
Pattern and yarn purchased from Kpixie

This ponchette was very fun and fast to knit. I fell in love with the cascading circles created by the yarn-over, knit-2-together combination. Adding the three extra stitches and then binding them off to create the small points was also fun. Returning to stockinette knitting is going to be a challenge after this fun and zippy pattern. I might just have to cast on for that lace scarf that's on my list.

I'm going to stitch the ponchette together now so hopefully I'll be able to model it for you soon!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jazzercise


I was a Jazzercise freak many years ago. That exercise program, which is the closest I can get to cheering, helped to pull me out of a depression when I was in my 20's. I have a lot of fond memories of my previous instructor, Frankie, and other good friend Sherry jazzercizing with me. My mom joined me in going to Jazzercise for a time. And when the four of us were in a car, listening to the radio, and one of our Jazzercize songs would come on, we would all start bouncing and moving in time to the Jazzercise routine. It was a sight to behold!

So when a Jazzercise studio opened up nearby, my interest was piqued. I was impressed by their willingness to give me a free week of classes. And I was tickled pink that Karen was willing to join me in going to class.

On Monday, we showed up, nervous yet excited. It was a good class. I had a lot of fun, got my heartrate up, and made my face beet red.

But my body was SHOCKED by what I was asking of it. So I came down with a cold.

By Monday night I was freezing and snuffling and by Tuesday I was full-fledged sick. I took cold/allergy medicine but I swear that stuff makes me feel just as sick as the cold symptoms. Every four hours, I thought, "Hmmm, do I want to feel feverish and breathe only through my mouth but feel clear-headed or do I want to be able to breathe but feel sleepy and dopey and grumpy?" (dwarves!)

Anyway, I think I'm on the other side of the cold. I'm still snuffling but managing to make it through the day without too many fevers. I managed to make it to a Wednesday Jazzercise cross-training class. In fact, it was the only time I was able to breathe clearly.

I had this image of microscopic workers in my body wearing industrial clothes and yellow hard hats. And the foreman of this group yelling, "She's just started a Jazzercise class. Yep, she's jumping around and sweating and trying to breathe. We've got to open up her nose!" And the workers turn this crank and my nose opens up. (I know... I'm very strange! I'll blame it on the mind-altering cold medicines.)

In the midst of my three days of snuffling and snorking and blowing and sneezing (more dwarves!), I've managed to get 90% of my ponchette completed. I hope to finish it up today and have lovely blocking photos to show you tomorrow.

Until then, I'll leave you with a recent blurry cat photo. Feel free to add your own caption.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day Basket of Flowers


What a wonderful surprise!

I was downstairs, basking in the sun and knitting when my doorbell rang at around 10:00 this morning. I walked cautiously to the door, afraid that it was a solicitor. Instead, I found a cup-and-pipe-cleaner basket full of flowers.

Apparently, the elementary school nearby was fully embracing May Day.

According to wikipedia, May Day baskets are made and left on someone's doorstep. When you ring the doorbell, you are supposed to run away. If you are caught, then the other person gets to kiss you.

I was delighted to watch these children, each carrying his/her basket, walking from house to house and waiting their turn to ring the bell. They would scamper up to the door, place the basket, and giggle and run away. How delightful!

I felt like the May Queen and wanted to dance around the maypole. Let the springtime revelry begin!